After the final game of the season you had several players complaining to the media about attitudes in the locker room. They talked about players being selfish and things like that. I’m told that most of the comments were aimed at one person…Nnamdi Asomugha.
In 2012 Nnamdi was the second highest paid Eagle (behind Vick). That meant that expectations were high. He needed to play at an elite level. He needed to be the right kind of presence on the field and in the locker room. How’d he do? Miss, miss, and miss.
To outsiders, Nnamdi seems like a great guy. He is very charitable. Not only is he a good citizen compared to most football players, he’s a good citizen compared to most citizens. He’s well spoken. There is no trouble with him. Quality guy.
The problem with Nnamdi is in the football world. He’s not a “life or death” kind of football guy. Ronnie Lott cut off part of a finger to avoid missing a regular season game. Compare that to Nnamdi on the plays where he stood and watched as opposing players waltzed into the endzone.
Nnamdi never takes the blame for problems. When beaten on a pass play, his arm goes up like a divining rod and starts pointing toward Kurt Coleman or Nate Allen. No CB is perfect. There are plays when you’re going to get burned. Just acknowledge it and move on. Nnamdi never blames the guy in the mirror. He’s too busy pointing the finger elsewhere. No one likes an overpaid guy who blames others at the drop of a hat. That is one of the fastest ways to make enemies in a locker room.
Michael Vick had his share of bad moments in 2012. You didn’t see him on the sideline screaming at King Dunlap or Danny Watkins. I don’t recall him getting grilled by the press and just saying “Did you see Demetress Bell’s blocking?”. Vick always took the blame and protected his teammates and coaches.
Nnamdi can be a tough, physical player. Remember the 2011 hit on TE Chris Cooley? Nnamdi unloaded on him and ended Cooley’s season. There were times this year against the run when Nnamdi would go make an impressive tackle in traffic. The very next play he would reach for the runner/receiver passively. That’s what makes him so frustrating. He can be a really tough player. He chooses not to more often than not.
What is the argument for keeping Nnamdi? He has poor ball skills, to put it mildly. His long speed is gone. He is an inconsistent hitter/tackler. He isn’t a leader. He frustrates his teammates by playing the blame game too much.
Nnamdi’s best game, in my mind, was against Megatron and the Lions. Nnamdi was physical with Calvin Johnson. He was well-prepared for what to expect on short routes and broke up an early 3rd down pass due to that. Nnamdi picked off a pass in that game. He looked good. The problem is that you can’t always match him up with a big WR. Speedy guys kill Nnamdi. He just can’t run with them.
If Nnamdi was a long time Eagle and had a cheap salary you’d argue to keep him around as a backup and specialist. He’s due $15.5M this year. There is 0.00 percent chance he gets that. I will be involved in a love triangle with Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt before Nnamdi gets to stay under that deal.
I’m sure Nnamdi would be willing to take a pay cut so he could stay here. I just don’t think Chip Kelly will want him. He’s not getting a top player. He’s not getting a leader. If anything, Nnamdi has a sense of entitlement from his career. No one disputes that he was a top CB in Oakland. The problem is that things have changed. The talent is gone, but Nnamdi still acts as if he’s an elite player. You can get away with certain things when you’re a star. You can’t do that when you start to fade. As of December 2012, Nnamdi hadn’t realized this.
If Chip does decide to keep Nnamdi on a re-worked deal, it will be because someone did a hell of a sales job. I just don’t see that happening.
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Vick did unleash some nastiness in the press at his final PC after the Giants debacle. Some people wondered about what was going on. Who was he talking about? Who was Vick mad at? Nnamdi was one of his targets. I can’t say for sure who others were.
I didn’t get too caught up in the players ripping guys to the media. Players are human. They need to vent. You don’t want to make too much of it. Antrel Rolle publicly ripped Tom Coughlin in the middle of the 2011 season. Now they love each other.
I do think the locker room got dysfunctional this year. It became clear by midseason that Andy was gone. Vick was hurt. Some of the players were happy to have Nick Foles on the field. The love for Vick as a person had faded due to frustration with the INTs and fumbles. I’m sure there were more than a few Vick/Foles arguments among teammates. Jason Babin was being an unlikable ass and not playing well enough to cover that up.
At the same time, I don’t want to make too much of that. Winning is the great deodorant, as the saying goes. When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, they had a clubhouse “full of characters”. When the team was losing, those same players and antics suddenly were labeled “a distraction” and “a sign of poor leadership”.
When you win, things get spun in a positive manner. When you lose, things get spun the other way. Think about it. A players only meeting that results in winning is taken as a sign that the team came together. A players only meeting that doesn’t work is a sign of a fractured locker room.
The Eagles struggled in 2012 due to turnovers and simple errors on the field a lot more than any dissension in the locker room.
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I think we’ll know a lot more about the Eagles DC situation by next Wednesday. If the team is truly waiting for one of the assistant coaches in the Super Bowl, a meeting should be set up by mid-week. If we hear nothing, then it could turn out that the Eagles are in fact waiting for a college coach. I still don’t buy that, but the rumors continue to be out there that Todd Grantham and Kirby Smart are targets. Just doesn’t seem likely to me.
Ed Donatell (SF-DBs) and Ted Monachino (BAL-LBs) are the most prominent names in the search right now. I mentioned the other day that one name that isn’t getting talked about but interests me is Jim Leavitt, the Niners LBs coach.
Noah Becker shared a link on Twitter yesterday to a post on Leavitt as a candidate “lurking in the shadows”. Good read. Leavitt and Chip Kelly did face each other in an Oregon-USF game. Noah also pointed out they faced each other in a New Hampshire-USF game.
No one is pretending to have inside knowledge. This is all just speculation. But it does make for good fun to try and think of candidates that are flying under the radar.
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What will the Eagles do with the #4 pick?
I’m still back and forth with who/what I want. The chance to add an impact player intrigues the heck out of me. The thought of trading back excites me. The only thing I’m pretty sure of right now is that I don’t want a QB with that pick.
Sheil Kapadia took at look back at the #4 picks of the last decade. This gives you an idea of the kind of players who can be gotten there, both good and bad. There really isn’t anyone on the list who was a total bust. Cedric Benson had off-field issues, but when focused was a darn good RB. Aaron Curry is the closest thing, but he’s young enough that he can still turn his career around.
Be sure to check out another item from Sheil on that post. Bill Barnwell from Grantland ripped Pat Shurmur to shreds. As Bill noted, let’s hope Pat is a better OC than HC.
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Jimmy Bama wrote up some thoughts on offensive team needs for the Eagles.